Water intoxication, medically termed Hyponatremia, is more common than most people think. And it can be especially dangerous under certain exercise conditions and can produce serious medical conditions.
Hypernatremia exists when sodium concentrations in the blood drop below normal levels triggering severe symptoms. A sustained low concentration of sodium in the blood causes an osmotic imbalance across the blood-brain barrier that causes rapid water influx in the brain. This flood of water produces swelling of brain tissue resulting in symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms include: headache, confusion, nausea, cramping, seizures, coma, pulmonary edema (water retention in the chest), cardiac arrest, and even death.
Those physically active individuals most at risk are those partaking in high-intensity, ultramarathon-type exercise of 6- to 8-hours duration, particularly in hot weather. Consuming beverages with high sodium levels while partaking in long-duration high-intensity physical activity will also predispose a person to Hyponatremia.
To reduce risk of overhydration or hyponatremia in prolonged exercise are as follows:
1. 2-3 hours before exercise drink 14-22 fluid oz.
2. Drink 5-10 oz. of fluid about 30 minutes before exercise.
3. Drink no more than 33 oz. of plain water spread over 15-minute intervals during or after exercise.
4. Add a small amount of sodium (~1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per 32 oz) to the ingested fluid. Coco Fit is also an effective tool for providing water, carbohydrate fuel, and electrolytes!
5. Do NOT restrict salt in your diet.